Norwegian killer whales slap their tails underwater to disorient and kill herring, which sometimes defend themselves from the assault by disappearing under the cover of their own bubbly flatulence, according to a new study.
The study is one of two papers presented at the recent Acoustical Society of America Meeting in Rhode Island that addressed some of the clever techniques whales employ to catch their dinner.
While whales often are successful, some herring escape. The study's authors perhaps say it best: “Farting may save their lives.”
“The (herring) bubbles are released through the anal duct when the air expands as the fish ascend,” explained Malene Simon, who worked on the research. “We do not know if the fish release air when staying at one depth as a reaction when meeting a predator. However, it is very likely that the bubble will confuse or scare the predator in such a way that the herring will have a better chance of escaping...”
As for the herring flatulence, Diachok agreed the fish may do this to facilitate escape, but he said it also might just be inadvertent.
— Larry, Acoustical Monkey, Light Reading